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b: t.m.barrie 

O- T— 


MAY 3rd 1922 

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MAY 3rd 1922 







^ c^ 

To the Red Gowns of St. Andrews 

You have had many rectors here in St. 
Andrews who will continue in bloom long after 
the lowly ones such as I am are dead and rotten 
and forgotten. They are the roses in Decem- 
ber ; you remember someone said that God gave 
us memory so that we might have roses in 
December. But I do not envy the great ones. 
In my experience — and you may find in the end 
it is yours also — ^the people I have cared for 
most and w^hohave seemed most worth caring for 
— my December roses — ^have been very simple 
folk. Yet I wish that for this hour I could swell 
into someone of importance, so as to do you 
credit. I suppose you had a melting for me 
because I was hewn out of one of your own 
quarries, walked similar academic groves, and 
have trudged the road on which you will soon 


set forth. I would that I could put into your 
hands a staff for that somewhat bloody march, 
for though there is much about myself that I 
conceal from other people, to help you I would 
expose every cranny of my mind. 

But, alas, when the hour strikes for the Rector 
to answer to his call he is unable to become 
the undergraduate he used to be, and so the 
only door into you is closed. We, your elders, 
are much more interested in you than you are in 
us. We are not really important to you. I 
have utterly forgotten the address of the Rector 
of my time, and even who he was, but I recall 
vividly climbing up a statue to tie his colours 
round its neck and being hurled therefrom with 
contumely. We remember the important things. 
I cannot provide you with that staff for your 
journey; but perhaps I can tell you a little 
about it, how to use it and lose it and find it 
again, and cling to it more than ever. You 
shall cut it — so it is ordained — ^every one of you 
for himself, and its name is Courage. You 


must excuse me if I talk a good deal about 
courage to you to-day. There is nothing else 
much worth speaking about to undergraduates 
or graduates or white-haired men and women. 
It is the lovely virtue— the rib of Himself that 
God sent down to His children. 

My special difficulty is that though you have 
had literary rectors here before, they were the 
big guns, the historians, the philosophers; you 
have had none, I think, who followed my more 
humble branch, which may be described as 
playing hide and seek with angels. My puppets 
seem more real to me than myself, and I could 
get on much more swingingly if I made one 
of them deliver this address. It is M'Connachie 
who has brought me to this pass. M'Connachie, 
I should explain, as I have undertaken to open 
the innermost doors, is the name I give to the 
unruly half of myself : the writing half. We 
are complement and supplement. I am the 
half that is dour and practical and canny, he is 
the fanciful half ; my desire is to be jJ^^family 



solicitor, standing firm on my hearthrug among 
the harsh realities of the office furniture ; while 
he prefers to fly around on one wing. I should 
not mind him doing that, but he drags me with 
him. I have sworn that M'Connachie shall not 
interfere with this address to-day ; but there is 
no telling. I might have done things worth 
while if it had not been for M'Connachie, and 
my first piece of advice to you at any rate shall 
be sound : don't copy me. A good subject for 
a rectorial address would be the mess the 
Rector himself has made of life. I merely cast 
this forth as a suggestion, and leave the work- 
ing of it out to my successor. I do not think it 
has been used yet. 

My own theme is Courage, as you should use 
it in the great fight that seems to me to be 
coming between youth and their betters ; by 
youth, meaning, of course, you, and by your 
betters us. I want you to take up this posi- 
tion : That youth have for too long left exclu- 
sively in our hands the decisions in national 



matters that are more vital to them than to us. 
Things about the next war, for instance, and 
why the last one ever had a beginning. I use 
the word fight because it must, I think, begin 
with a challenge; but the aim is the reverse of 
antagonism, it is partnership. I want you to 
hold that the time has arrived for youth to 
demand that partnership, and to demand it 
courageously. That to gain courage is what 
you come to St. Andrews for. With some 
alarums and excursions into college life. That 
is what I propose, but, of course, the issue lies 
with M'Connachie. 

Your betters had no share in the immediate 
cause of the war ; we know what nation has that 
blot to wipe out; but for fifty years or so we 
heeded not the rumblings of the distant drum, 
I do not mean by lack of military preparations ; 
and when war did come we told youth, who had 
to get us out of it, tall tales of what it really 
is and of the clover beds to which it leads. 

lo Courage 

We were not meaning to deceive, most of us 
were as honourable and as ignorant a^ the youth 
themselves ; but that does not acquit us of fail- 
ings such as stupidity and jealousy, the two 
black spots in human nature which, more than 
love of money, are at the root of all evil. If 
you prefer to leave things as they are we shall 
probably fail you again. Do not be too sure 
that we have learned our lesson, and are not at 
this very moment doddering down some brim- 
stone path. 

I am far from implying that even worse 
things than war may not come to a State. 
There are circumstances in which nothing can 
so well become a land, as I think this land 
proved when the late war did break out and 
there was but one thing to do. There is a form 
of anaemia that is more rotting than even an 
unjust war. The end will indeed have come to 
our courage and to us when we are afraid in 
dire mischance to refer the final appeal to the 

Courage 1 1 


arbitrament of arms. I suppose all the lusty 
of our race, alive and dead, join hands on that. 

* And he is dead who will not fight ; 
And who dies fighting has increase.' 

But if you must be in the struggle, the more 
reason you should know why, before it begins, 
and have a say in the decision whether it is to 
begin. The youth who went to the war had 
no such knowledge, no such say ; I am sure the 
survivors, of whom there must he a number here 
to-day, want you to be wiser than they were, and 
are certainly determined to be wiser next time 
themselves. If you are to get that partnership, 
which, once gained, is to be for mutual benefit, 
it will be, I should say, by banding yourselves 
with these men, not defiantly but firmly, not for 
^elfish ends but for your country's good. In 
the meantime they have one bulwark ; they have 
a General who is befriending them as I think 
never, after the fighting was over, has a General 
befriended his men before. Perhaps the seemly 

12 Courage 

thing would be for us, their betters, to elect one 
of these young survivors of the carnage to be 
our Rector. He ought now to know a few 
things about war that are worth our hearing. 
If his theme were the Rector's favourite, dili- 
gence, I should be afraid of his advising a 
great many of us to be diligent in sitting still 
and doing no more harm. 

Of course he would put it more suavely than 
that, though it is not, I think, by gentleness 
that you will get your rights; we are dogged 
ones at sticking to what we have got, and so 
will you be at our age. But avoid calling us 
ugly names; we may be stubborn and we may 
be blunderers, but we love you more than 
aught else in the world, and once you have 
won your partnership we shall all be welcoming 
you. I urge you not to use ugly names about 
anyone. In the war it was not the fighting 
men who were distinguished for abuse; as has 
been well said, * Hell hath no fury like a non- 
combatant.' Never ascribe to an opponent 

Courage 13 

motives meaner than your own. There may be 
students here to-day who have decided this ses- 
sion to go in for immortality, and would like 
to know of an easy way of accomplishing it. 
That is a way, but not so easy as you think. Go 
through life without ever ascribing to your 
opponents motives meaner than your own. 
Nothing so lowers the moral currency ; give it 
up, and be great. 

Another sure way to fame is to know what 
you mean. It is a solemn thought that almost 
no one — if he is truly eminent — knows what 
he means. Look at the great ones of the earth, 
the politicians. We do not discuss what they 
say, but what they may have meant when they 
said it. In 1922 we are all wondering, and so 
are they, what they meant in 19 14 and after- 
wards. They are publishing books trying to 
find out; the men of action as well as the men 
of words. There are exceptions. It is not 
that our statesmen are * sugared mouths with 
minds theref rae ' ; many of them are the best 

14 Courage 

men we have got, upright and anxious, nothing 
cheaper than to miscall them. The explanation 
seems just to be that it is so difficult to know 
what you mean, especially when you have 
become a swell. No longer apparently can you 
deal in * russet yeas and honest kersey 
noes ' ; gone for ever is simplicity, which is 
as beautiful as the divine plain face of Lamb's 
Miss Kelly. Doubts breed suspicions, a dan- 
gerous air. Without suspicion there might 
have been no war. When you are called to 
Downing Street to discuss what you want of 
your betters with the Prime Minister he won't 
be suspicious, not as far as you can see; but 
remember the atmosphere of generations you 
are in, and when he passes you the toast-rack 
say to yourselves, if you would be in the mode, 
' Now, I wonder what he meant by that.' 

iEven without striking out in the way I sug- 
gest, you are already disturbing your betters 
considerably. I sometimes talk this over with 
M'Connachie, with whom, as you may guess. 

Courage 15 

circumstances compel me to pass a good deal 
of my time. In our talks we agree that we, 
your betters, constantly find you forgetting that 
we are your betters. Your answer is that the 
war and other happenings have shown you that 
age is not necessarily another name for 
sapience; that our avoidance of frankness in 
life and in the arts is often, but not 
so often as you think, a cowardly way 
of shirking unpalatable truths, and that you 
have taken us off our pedestals because we 
look more natural on the ground. You who 
are at the rash age even accuse your elders, 
sometimes not without justification, of being 
more rash than yourselves. * If Youth but 
only knew,' we used to teach you to sing; but 
now, just because Youth has been to the war, it 
wants to change the next line into * If Age had 
only to do.' 

In so far as this attitude of yours is merely 
passive, sullen, negative, as it mainly is, des- 
pairing of our capacity and anticipating a 

1 6 Courage 

future of gloom, it is no game for man or 
woman. It is certainly the opposite of that for 
which I plead. Do not stand aloof, despising, 
disbelieving, but come in and help — insist on 
coming in and helping. After all, we have 
shown a good deal of courage; and your part 
is to add a greater courage to it. There are 
i glorious years lying ahead of you if you choose 
to make them glorious. God's in His heaven 
still. So forward, brave hearts. To what 
adventures I cannot tell, but I know that your 
God is watching to see whether you are adven- 
turous. I know that the great partnership is 
only a first step, but I do not know what are to 
be the next and the next. The partnership is 
but a tool ; what are you to do with it ? Very 
little, I warn you, if you are merely thinking 
of yourselves; much if what is at the marrow 
of your thoughts is a future that even you can 
scarcely hope to see. 

Learn as a beginning how world-shaking 
situations arise and how they may be countered. 

Courage 17 

Doubt all your betters who would deny you that 
right of partnership. Begin by doubting all 
such in high places — except, of course, your 
professors. But doubt all other professors — 
yet not conceitedly, as some do, with their noses 
in the air; avoid all such physical risks. 
If it necessitates your pushing some 
of us out of our places, still push; you 
will find it jieeds some shoving. But the things 
courage can do ! The things that even incom- 
petence can do if it works with singleness of 
purpose. The war has done at least one big 
thing : it has taken spring out of the year. And, 
this accomplished, our leading people are 
amazed to find that the other seasons are not 
conducting themselves as usual. The spring 
of the year lies buried in the fields of France 
and elsewhere. By the time the next eruption 
comes it may be you who are responsible for it 
and your sons who are in the lava. All, per- 
haps, because this year you let things slide. 
We are a nice and kindly people, but it is 

1 8 Courage 

already evident that we are stealing back into 
the old grooves, seeking cushions for our old 
bones, rather than attempting to build up a 
fairer future. That is what we mean when we 
say that the country is settling down. 
Make haste, or you will become like 
us, with only the thing we proudly call 
experience to add to your stock, a poor 
exchange for the generous feelings that time 
will take away. We have no intention of giving 
you your share. Look around and see how 
much share Youth has now that the war is over. 
You got a handsome share while it lasted. 

I expect we shall beat you ; unless your forti- 
tude be doubly girded by a desire to send a 
message of cheer to your brothers who fell, the 
only message, I believe, for which they crave ; 
they are not worrying about their Aunt Jane. 
They want to know if you have learned wisely 
from what befell them ; if you have, they will be 
braced in the feeling that they did not die in 
vain. Some of them think they did. They 

Courage 19 

will not take our word for it that they did not. 
You are their living image; they know you 
could not lie to them, but they distrust our 
flattery and our cunning faces. To us they 
have passed away; but are you who stepped 
into their heritage only yesterday, whose books 
are scarcely cold to their hands, you who still 
hear their cries being blown across the links — 
are you already relegating them to the shades ? 
The gaps they have left in this University are 
among the most honourable of her wounds. 
But we are not here to acclaim them. Where 
they are now, hero is, I think, a very little word. 
They call to you to find out in time the truth 
about this great game, which your elders play 
for stakes and Youth plays for its life. 

I do not know whether you are grown a little 
tired of that word hero, but I am sure the heroes 
are. That is the subject of one of our un- 
finished plays; M'Connachie is the one who 
writes the plays. If any one of you here pro- 
poses to be a playwright you can take this for 

20 Courage 

your own and finish it. The scene is a school, 
schoolmasters present, but if you like you could 
make it a university, professors present. They 
are discussing an illuminated scroll about a 
student fallen in the war, which they have 
kindly presented to his parents ; and unexpect- 
edly the parents enter. They are an old pair, 
backbent, they have been stalwarts in their day 
but have now gone small ; they are poor, but not 
so poor that they could not send their boy to 
college. They are in black, not such a rusty 
black either, and you may be sure she is the one 
who knows what to do with his hat. Their 
faces are gnarled, I suppose — ^but I do not 
need to describe that pair to Scottish students. 
They have come to thank the Senatus for their 
lovely scroll and to ask them to tear it up. At 
first they had been enamoured to read of what a 
scholar their son was, how noble and adored by 
all. But soon a fog settled over them, for this 
grand person was not the boy they knew. He 
had many a fault well known to them ; he was 

Courage 21 

not always so noble; as a scholar he did no 
more than scrape through; and he sometimes 
made his father rage and his mother grieve. 
They had liked to talk such memories as these 
together, and smile over them, as if they were 
bits of him he had left lying about the house. 
So thank you kindly, and would you please 
give them back their boy by tearing up the 
scroll? I see nothing else for our dramatist 
to do. I think he should ask an alumna of St. 
Andrews to play the old lady (indicating Miss 
Ellen Terry). The loveliest of all young 
actresses, the dearest of all old ones ; it seems 
only yesterday that all the men of imagination 
proposed to their beloveds in some such fren- 
zied words as these, * As I can't get Miss Terry, 
may I have you ? ' 

This play might become historical as the 
opening of your propaganda in the proposed 
campaign. How to make a practical advance ? 
The League of Nations is a very fine thing, but 

22 Courage 

it cannot save you, because it will be run by us. 
Beware your betters bringing presents. What 
is wanted is something run by yourselves. You 
have more in common with the youth of other 
lands than Youth and Age can ever have with 
each other; even the hostile countries sent out 
many a son very like ours, from the same 
sort of homes, the same sort of univer- 
sities, who had as little to do as our 
youth had with the origin of the great 
adventure. Can we doubt that many of these 
on both sides who have gone over and were 
once opponents are now friends? You ought 
to have a League of Youth of all countries as 
your beginning, ready to say to all Govern- 
ments, ' We will fight each other but only when 
we are sure of the necessity.' Are you equal to 
your job, you young men? If not, I call upon 
the red-gowned women to lead the way. I 
sound to myself as if I were advocating a 
rebellion, though I am really asking for a larger 
friendship. Perhaps I may be arrested on 

Courage 2^ 

leaving the hall. In sudh a cause I should 
think that I had at last proved myself worthy 
to be your Rector. 

You will have to work harder than ever, but 
possibly not so much at the same things ; more 
at modern languages certainly if you are to dis- 
cuss that League of Youth with the students 
of other nations when they come over to St. 
Andrews for the Conference. I am far from 
taking a side against the classics. I should as 
soon argue against your having tops to your 
heads ; that way lie the best tops. Science, too, 
has at last come to its own in St. Andrews. It 
is the surest means of teaching you how to know 
what you mean when you say. So you will 
have to work harder. Isaak Walton quotes the 
saying that doubtless the Almighty could have 
created a finer fruit than the strawberry, but 
that doubtless also He never did. Doubtless 
also He could have provided us with better fun 
than hard work, but I don't know what it is. 
To be born poor is probably the next best thing. 

24 Courage 

The greatest glory that has ever come to me 
was to be swallowed up in London, not knowing 
a soul, with no means of subsistence, and the 
fun of working till the stars went out. To 
have known any one would have spoilt it. I 
did not even quite know the language. I rang 
for my boots, and they thought I said a glass 
of water, so I drank the water and worked on. 
There was no food in the cupboard, so I did 
not need to waste time in eating. The pangs 
and agonies when no proof came. How cour- 
teously tolerant was I of the postman without 
a proof for us; how M'Connachie, on the other 
hand, wanted to punch his head. The magic 
days when our article appeared in an evening 
paper. The promptitude with which I counted 
the lines to see how much we should get for it. 
Then M'Connachie's superb air of dropping it 
into the gutter. Oh, to be a free lance of 
journalism again — that darling jade ! Those 
were days. Too good to last. Let us be grave. 
Here comes a Rector. 


But now, on reflection, a dreadful sinking 
assails me, that this was not really work. The 
artistic callings — you remember how Stevensor 
thumped them — are merely doing what yoi' 
are clamorous to be at ; it is not real work unless 
you would rather be doing something else. My 
so-called labours were just M'Connachie run- 
ning away with me again. Still, I have some- 
times worked; for instance, I feel that I am 
working at this moment. And the big guns are 
in the same plight as the little ones. Carlyle, 
the king of all rectors, has always been 
accepted as the arch-apostle of toil, and has 
registered his many woes. But it will not do. 
Despite sickness, poortith, want and all, he was 
grinding all his life at the one job he revelled 
in. An extraordinarily happy man, though 
there is no direct proof that he thought so. 

There must be many men in other callings 
besides the arts lauded as hard workers who 
are merely out for enjoyment. Our Chancel- 
lor? (indicating Lord Haig). If our Chancellor 

26 Courage 

had always a passion to be a soldier, we 
must reconsider him as a worker. Even 
our Principal? How about the light that 
burns in our Principal's room after decent 
people have gone to bed? If we could 
climb up and look in — I should like to do some- 
thing of that kind for the last time — should we 
find him engaged in honest toil, or guiltily 
engrossed in chemistry ? 

You will all fall into one of those two call- 
ings, the joyous or the uncongenial; and one 
wishes you into the first, though our sympathy, 
our esteem, must go rather to the less fortunate, 
the braver ones who * turn their necessity to 
glorious gain ' after they have put away their 
dreams. To the others will go the easy prizes 
of life — ^success, which has become a somewhat 
odious onion nowadays, chiefly because we so 
often give the name to the wrong thing. When 
you reach the evening of your days you will, I 
think, see — with, I hope, becoming cheerful- 
ness — that we are all failures, at least all the 

Courage 2y 

best of us. The greatest Scotsman that ever 
lived wrote himself down a failure : 

* The poor inhabitant below 
Was quick to learn and wise to know, 
And keenly felt the friendly glow 

And softer flame. 
But thoughtless follies laid him low. 

And stained bis name.* 

Perhaps the saddest lines in poetry, written by 
a man who could make things new for the gods 

If you want to avoid being like Burns there 
are several possible ways. Thus you might 
copy us, as we shine forth in our published 
memoirs, practically without a flaw. No one 
so obscure nowadays but that he can have a 
book about him. Happy the land that can 
produce such subjects for the pen. 

But do not put your photograph at all ages 
into your autobiography. That may bring you 
to the ground. ' My Life ; and what. I have done 
with it ' ; that is the sort of title, but it is the 
photographs that give away what you have done 

a8 Courage 

with it. Grim things, those portraits; if you 
could read the language of them you would 
often find it unnecessary to read the book. The 
face itself, of course, is still more tell-tale, for it 
is the record of all one's past life. There the 
man stands in the dock, page by page ; we ought 
to be able to see each chapter of him melting 
into the next like the figures in the cinemato- 
graph. Even the youngest of you has got 
throug'h some chapters already. When you go 
home for the next vacation someone is sure 
to say ' John has changed a little ; I don't 
quite see in what way, but he has changed.' 
You remember they said that last vacation. 
Perhaps it means that you look less like your 
father. Think that out. I could say some nice 
things of your betters if I chose. 

In youth you tend to look rather frequently 
into a mirror, not at all necessarily from vanity. 
You say to yourself, ' What an interesting face ; 
I wonder what he is to be up to ? ' Your elders 
do not look into the mirror so often. We know 

Courage 29 

what he has been up to. As yet there is un- 
fortunately no science of reading other people's 
faces; I think a chair for this should be founded 
in St. Andrews. 

The new professor will need to be a sublime 
philosopher, and for obvious reasons he ought 
to wear spectacles before his senior class. 
It will be a gloriously optimistic chair, for 
he can tell his students the glowing truth, 
that what their faces are to be like presently 
depends mainly on themselves. Mainly, not 
altogether — 

* I am the master of my fate, 
I am the captain of my soul.' 

I found the other day an old letter from 
Henley that told me of the circumstances in 
which he wrote that poem. ' I was a patient,' 
he writes, ' in the old infirmary of Edinburgh. 
I had heard vaguely of Lister, and went there 
as a sort of forlorn hope on the chance of 
saving my foot. The great surgeon received 

30 Courage 

me, as he did and does everybody, with the 
greatest kindness, and for twenty months I lay 
in one or other ward of the old place under his 
care. It was a desperate business, but he 
saved my foot, and here I am.' There he was, 
ladies and gentlemen, and what he was doing 
during that * desperate business ' was singing 
that he was master of his fate. 

If you want an example of courage try 
Henley. Or Stevenson. I could tell you 
some stories about these two, but they would 
not be dull enough for a rectorial address. For 
courage, again, take Meredith, whose laugh 
was * as broad as a thousand beaves at pasture.' 
Take, as I think, the greatest figure literature 
has still left to us, to be added to-day to the 
roll of St. Andrews' alumni, though it must be 
in absence. The pomp and circumstance of 
war will pass, and all others now alive may fade 
from the scene, but I think the quiet figure of 
Hardy will live on. 

Courage 31 

I seem to be taking all my examples from the 
calling I was lately pretending to despise. I 
should like to read you some passages of a 
letter from a man of another calling, which I 
think will hearten you. I have the little filmy 
sheets here. I thought you might like to see 
the actual letter ; it has been a long journey ; it 
has been to the South Pole. It is a letter to me 
from Captain Scott of the Antarctic, and was 
written in the tent you know of, where it was 
found long afterwards with his body and those 
of some other very gallant gentlemen, his com- 
rades. The writing is in pencil, still quite 
clear, though toward the end some of the words 
trail away as into the great silence that was 
waiting for them. It begins : 

' We are pegging out in a very comfortless spot. 
Hoping this letter may be found and sent to you, I write 
you a word of farewell. I want you to think well of me 
and my end.' [After some private instructions too 
intimate to read, he goes on] : * Goodbye — I am not at 
all afraid of the end, but sad to miss many a simple 
pleasure which I had planned for the future in our long 
marches. . . . We are in a desperate state — feet 

3^ Courage 

frozen, etc., no fuel, and a long way from food, but it 
would do your heart good to be in our tent, to hear our 
songs and our cheery conversation. . . . Later — [it 
is here that the words become difficult] — We are very 
near the end. . . . We did intend to finish ourselves 
when things proved like this, but we have decided to die 
naturally without.' 

I think it may uplift you all to stand for a 
moment by that tent and listen, as he says, to 
their songs and cheery conversation. When I 
think of Scott I remember the strange Alpine 
story of the youth who fell down a glacier and 
was lost, and of how a scientific companion, one 
of several who accompanied him, all young, 
computed that the body would again appear at 
a certain date and place many years after- 
wards. When that time came round some of 
the survivors returned to the glacier to see if the 
prediction would be fulfilled; all old men now; 
and the body reappeared as young as on the 
day he left them. So Scott and his comrades 
emerge out of the white immensities always 

Courage 33 

How comely a thing is affliction borne cheer- 
fully, which is not beyond the reach of the 
humblest of us. What is beauty? It is these 
hard-bitten men singing courage to you from 
their tent; it is the waves of their island home 
crooning of their deeds to you who are to follow 
them. Sometimes beauty boils over and then 
spirits are abroad. Ages may pass as we look 
or listen, for time is annihilated. There is a 
very old legend told to me by Nansen the 
explorer — I like well to be in the company of 
explorers — the legend of a monk who had 
wandered into the fields and a lark began to 
sing. He had never heard a lark before, and 
he stood there entranced until the bird and its 
song had become part of the heavens. Then 
he went back to the monastery and found there 
a doorkeeper whom he did not know and who 
did not know him. Other monks came, and 
they were all strangers to him. He told them 
he was Father Anselm, but that was no help. 
Finally they looked through the books of the 

34 Courage 

monastery, and these revealed that there had 
been a Father Anselm there a hundred or more 
years before. Time had been blotted out while 
he listened to the lark. 

That, I suppose, was a case of beauty boiling 
over, or a soul boiling over; perhaps the same 
thing. Then spirits walk. 

They must sometimes walk St. Andrews. I 
do not mean the ghosts of queens or prelates, 
but one that keeps step, as soft as snow, with 
some poor student. He sometimes catches 
sight of it. That is why his fellows can never 
quite touch him, their best beloved; he half 
knows some tiling of which they know nothing — 
the secret that is hidden in the face of the 
Monna Lisa. As I see him, life is so beautiful 
to him that its proportions are monstrous. Per- 
haps his childhood may have been overfull of 
gladness; they don't like that. If the seekers 
were kind he is the one for whom the flags of 
his college would fly one day. But the seeker I 

Courage 35 

am thinking of is unfriendly, and so our student 
is * the lad that will never be old.' He often 
gaily forgets, and thinks he has slain his foe 
by daring him, like him who, dreading water, 
was always the first to leap into it. One can 
see him serene, astride a Scotch cliff, singing 
to the sun the farewell thanks of a boy : 

* Throned on a cliff serene Man saw the sun 
hold a red torch above the farthest seas, 
arid the fierce island pinnacles put on 
in his defence their .^ombre panoplies ; 
Foremost the white mists eddied, trailed and spun 
like seekers, emulous to clasp his knees, 
till all the beauty of the scene seemed one, 
led by the secret whispers of the breeze. 

' The sun's torch suddenly flashed upon his face 
and died ; and he sat content in subject ni.^ht 
and dreamed of an old dead foe that had sought and 

found him ; 
a beast stirred boldly in his resting-place ; 
And the cold came ; Man rose to his master-height, 
shivered, and turned away ; but the mists were 

round him.' 

36 Courage 

If there is any of you here so rare that the 
seekers have taken an ill-will to him, as to the 
boy who wrote those lines, I ask you to be 
careful. Henley says in that poem we were 
speaking of : 

* Under the bludgeonings of Chance 
My head is bloody but unbowed.' 

A fine mouthful, but perhaps ' My head is 
bloody and bowed ' is better. 

Let us get back to that tent with its songs 
and cheery conversation. Courage. I do not 
think it is to be got by your becoming solemn- 
sides before your time. You must have been 
warned against letting the golden hours slip by. 
Yes, but some of them are golden only because 
we let them slip. Diligence — ambition; noble 
words, but only if ' touched to fine issues.' 
Prizes may be dross, learning lumber, unless 
they bring you into the arena with increased 
understanding. Hanker not too much after 
worldly prosperity — ^that corpulent cigar; if 

Courage 37 

you became a millionaire you would probably 
go swimming around for more like a diseased 
goldfish. Look to it that what you are doing 
is not merely toddling to a competency. Per- 
haps that must be your fate, but fight it and 
then, though you fail, you may still be among 
the elect of whom we have spoken. Many a 
brave man has had to come to it at last. But 
there are the complacent toddlers from the 
start. Favour them not, ladies, especially now 
that every one of you carries a possible 
marechal's baton under her gown. * Happy,' 
it has been said by a distinguished man, ' is he 
who can leave college with an unreproaching 
conscience and an unsullied heart.' I don't 
know; he sounds to me like a sloppy, watery 
sort of fellow; happy, perhaps, but if there be 
red blood in him impossible. Be not dis- 
heartened by ideals of perfection Which can 
be achieved only by those who run away. 
Nature, that * thrifty goddess,' never gave you 
* the smallest scruple of her excellence ' for 


38 Courage 

that. Whatever bludgeonings may be gather- 
ing for you, I think one feels more poignantly 
at your age than ever again in life. You have 
not our December roses to help you; but you 
have June coming, whose roses do not wonder, 
as do ours even while they give us their 
fragrance — wondering most when they give us 
most — that we should linger on an empty 
scene. It may indeed be monstrous but 
possibly courageous. 

Courage is the thing. All goes if courage 
goes. What says our glorious Johnson of 
courage : ' Unless a man has that virtue 
he has no security for preserving any other.' 
We should thank our Creator three times 
daily for courage instead of for our bread, 
Which, if we work, is surely the one thing we 
have a right to claim of Him. This courage 
is a proof of our immortality, greater even than 
gardens ' when the eve is cool.' Pray for it. 
* Who rises from prayer a better man, his 
prayer is answered.' Be not merely coura- 

Courage 39 

geous, but light-hearted and gay. There is 
an officer who was the first of our Army to 
land at Gallipoli. He was dropped overboard 
to light decoys on the shore, so as to deceive 
the Turks as to where the landing was to be. 
He pushed a raft containing these in front of 
him. It was a frosty night, and he was naked 
and painted black. Firing from the ships was 
going on all around. It was a two-hours' swim 
in pitch darkness. He did it, crawled through 
the scrub to listen to the talk of the enemy, 
who were so near that he could have shaken 
hands with them, lit his decoys and swam back. 
He seems to look on this as a gay affair. He is 
a V.C. now, and you would not think to look 
at him that he could ever have presented such 
a disreputable appearance. Would you? (indi- 
cating Colonel Freyberg). 

Those men of whom I have been speaking as 
the kind to fill the fife could all be light- 
hearted on occasion. I remember Scott by 
Highland streams trying to rouse me by main- 

40 Courage 

taining that haggis is boiled bagpipes ; Henley 
in dispute as to whether, say, Turgenieff or 
Tolstoi could hang the other on his watch- 
chain; he sometimes clenched the argument by 
casting his crutch at you ; Stevenson responded 
in the same gay spirit by giving that crutch to 
John Silver; you remember with what adequate 
results. You must cultivate this lighthearted- 
ness if you are to hang your betters on your 
watch-dhains. Dr. Johnson — let us have him 
again — does not seem to have discovered in his 
travels that the Scots are a light-hearted nation. 
Bos well took him to task for saying that the 
death of Garrick had eclipsed the gaiety of 
nations. ' Well, sir,' Johnson said, ' there may 
be occasions when it is permissible to,' etc. 
But Boswell would not let go. ' I cannot see, 
sir, how it could in any case have eclipsed the 
gaiety of nations, as England was the only 
nation before w^om he had ever played.' 
Johnson was really stymied, but you would 
never have known it. ' Well, sir,' he said, 

Courage 4' 

holing out, ' I understand that Garrick once 
played in Scotland, and if Scotland has any 

gaiety to eclipse, which, sir, I deny ' 

Prove Johnson wrong for once at the 
Students' Union and in your other societies. 
I much regret that there was no Students' 
Union at Edinburgh in my time. I hope you are 
fairly noisy and that members are sometimes 
led out. Do you keep to the old topics ? King 
Charles's head; and Bacon wrote Shakespeare, 
or if he did not he missed the opportunity of 
his life. Don't forget to speak scornfully of 
the Victorian age ; there will be time for meek- 
ness when you try to better it. Very soon 
you will be Victorian or that sort of thing your- 
selves; next session probably, when the fresh- 
men come up. Afterwards, if you go in for my 
sort of calling, don't begin by thinking you are 
the last word in art; quite possibly you are 
not; steady yourselves by remembering that 
there were great men before William K. Smith. 
Make merry while you may. Yet light-hearted- 

4^ Courage 

ness is not for ever and a day. At its best it is 
the gay companion of innocence; and when 
innocence goes — as go it must — they soon trip 
off together, looking for something younger. 
But courage comes all the way : 

* Fight on, my men, says Sir Andrew Barton, 
I am hurt, but I am not slaine ; 
I'll lie me down and bleed a-while, 
And then I'll rise and fight againe.' 

Another piece of advice ; almost my last. For 
reasons you may guess I must give this in a 
low voice. Beware of M'Connachie. When 
I look in a mirror now it is his face I see. I 
speak with his voice. I once had a voice of 
my own, but nowadays I hear it from far away 
only, a melancholy, lonely, lost little pipe. I 
wanted to be an explorer, but he willed other- 
wise. You will all have your M'Connachies 
luring you off the high road. Unless you are 
constantly on the watch, you will find that he 
has slowly pushed you out of yourself and 
taken your place. He has rather done for me. 

Courage 43 

I think in his youth he must somehow have 
guessed the future and been fleggit by it, 
flichtered from the nest like a bird, and so our 
eggs were left, cold. He has clung to me, less 
from mischief than for companionship; I half 
like him and his penny whistle; with all his 
faults he is as Scotch as peat; he whispered to 
me just now that you elected him, not me, as 
your Rector. 

A final passing thought. Were an old 
student given an hour in which to revisit the 
St. Andrews of his day, would he spend more 
than half of it at lectures? He is more likely 
to be heard clattering up bare stairs in search 
of old companions. But if you could choose 
your hour from all the five hundred years of this 
seat of learning, wandering at your will from 
one age to another, how would you spend it? 
A fascinating theme; so many notable shades 
at once astir that St. Leonard's and St. Mary's 
grow murky with them. Hamilton, Melville, 
Sharpe, Chalmers, down to Herkless, that dis- 

44 Courage 

tinguished Principal, ripe scholar and warm 
friend, the loss of whom I deeply deplore with 
you. I think if that hour were mine, and 
though at St. Andrews he was but a passer-by, 
I would give a handsome part of it to a walk 
with Doctor Johnson. I should like to have 
the time of day passed to me in twelve lan- 
guages by the Admirable Crichton. A wave 
of the hand to Andrew Lang ; and then for the 
archery butts with the gay Montrose, all 
a-ruffled and ringed, and in the gallant St. 
Andrews student manner, continued as I 
understand to this present day, scattering 
largess as he rides along, 

* But where is now the courtly troupe 

That once went riding by ? 
I miss the curls of Cante!oupe, 
The laugh of Lady Di.' 

We have still left time for a visit to a house 
in South Street, hard by St. Leonard's. I do 
not mean the house you mean. I am a Knox 
man. But little will that avail, for 

Courage 45 

M'Connachie is a Queen Mary man. So, 
after all, it is at her door we chap, a last 
futile effort to bring that woman to heel. One 
more house of call, a student's room, also in 
South Street. I have chosen my student, you 
see, and I have chosen well ; him that sang — 

* Life has not since been wholly vain, 

And now I bear 
Of wisdom plucked from joy and pain 
Some slender share. 

* But howsoever rich the store^ 

I'd lay it down 
To feel upon my back once more 
The old red gown.' 

Well, we have at last come to an end. Some 
of you may remember when I began this 
address ; we are all older now. I thank you for 
your patience. This is my first and last public 
appearance, and I never could or would have 
made it except to a gathering of Scottish 

46 Courage 

students. If I have concealed my emotions 
in addressing you it is only the thrawn national 
way that deceives everybody except Scotsmen. 
I have not been as dull as I could have wished 
to be ; but looking at your glowing faces cheer- 
fulness and hope would keep breaking through. 
Despite the imperfections of your betters we 
leave you a great inheritance, for which others 
will one day call you to account. You come 
of a race of men the very wind of whose name 
has swept to the ultimate seas. Remember — 

* Heaven doth with us as we with torches do, 
Not light them for themselves. . . .* 

Mighty are the Universities of Scotland, and 
they will prevail. But even in your highest 
exultations never forget that they are not four, 
but five. The greatest of them is the poor, 
proud homes you come out of, which said so 
long ago : ' There shall be education in this 
land.' She, not St. Andrews, is the oldest 
University in Scotland, and all the others are 
her whelps. 

Courage 47 

In bidding you good-bye, my last words must 
be of the lovely virtue. Courage, my children, 
and ' greet the unseen with a cheer.' ' Fight 
on, my men,' said Sir Andrew Barton. Fight 
on — ^you — for the old red gown till the whistle 

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